Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

a

By Senator SAULSBURY:
Q. You say the country wants cheap fish?-A. Yes.
Q. That is, of course, the poorer classes of the country?—A. Yes.

Q. How would the abandonment of the spring fisheries affect those people in reference to the supply of fish? Would they buy the dearer fish if they could not get the cheaper?-A. Of course. The past season has been unprecedented in regard to mackerel; there has been a great scarcity along our shores. Of course codfish are different. I think that in orlinary seasons we would get good fish and enough of them, especially if we had a chance of getting coltish from Nova Scotia, too, because the fish from there would help. I think the advantages vould be more than the disadvantages. Of course, in one way you would get cheaper tish, perhaps, to have the southern fish, but I think in the long run it would be better for the country not to take those fish.

By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Is there as much nutrition per pound of these poor fish as per pound of good fish?-A. What makes a fish good is not size, but quality. A fish il inches long may be better than one 15 inches long, because the larger fish, when dressed, may all dry up.

By Senator SAULSBURY: Q. Is the price of these spring fish as dear to the consumer as of the better fish which are put up later in the season?-A. The fish are generally very cheap. They often catch large quantities of them. There are thousands, I was going to say-yes, there must be thousands-of barrels that are thrown away because they can not get price enough for them really to pay for the trouble in getting them.

Q. Then I understand you to mean that the spring fish are sold at cheaper rates than the fish caught later in the season?--A. Yes, sir. Of course they might not be; it might be that there would be so few caught then that they would bring a higher price.

By Senator FRYE: Q. Do you think that any fish that is bearing spawn is good to eat?-A. It don't

The herring that come to our shores are all poor; we do not get any fine ones except those that come from Nova Scotia and that section.

seem so to me.

TESTIMONY OF THOMAS A. RICH.

BOSTON, Mass., September 30, 1886. Thomas A. Rich sworn and examined.

By Senator EDMUNDS:
Q. You reside in Boston?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. What is your occupation? - A. Fish business.
Q. What is your age?--A. Fifty-nine.
Q. How long have you been in the fish business here?- A. Since 1849.
Q. Do you deal in both salt and fresh fish?-A. No, sir; salt fish altogether.
Q. Do you deal in all varieties of salt fish?-A. About all.

Q. Where do the fish you deal in come from, chiefly? Where are they caught and cured?- A. They come from New England and Nova Scotia.

Q. About what proportion comes from Nova Scotian waters?--A. That I can not say.

By Senator FRYE: Q. What do you mean by “Nova Scotian waters" - within the 3-mile shore line? A. Oh, no; I mean the northern waters. The statistics show, I believe, that 4 per cent of mackerel were taken in Nova Scotian waters.

EFFECT OF THE ABROGATION OF TIIE TREATY OF 1870. By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Can you tell us what has been the effect of the abrogation of the treaty of 1870 on the price of salted fish in this market?--A. As a general thing I do not think it has had any effect at all.

Q. What becomes of the question of duty that has had to be paid since? – A. I think the duty is borne by the Nova Scotians entirely; I think there is no question about it.

Q. What makes you think so?-A. For many reasons. The price is governed by supply and demand, largely by supply. There may be one or two kinds that are possibly affected by the duty, but I do not believe that any one kind is affected to the extent of the duty. Neither do I believe, as Mr. Wrightington has stated, that the consumer pays the duty. The consumer buys of the retailer, and the price of the retailer varies very little. There is one case that I have cited a number of times which illustrates it as well as any. Last season there was a customer of ours ini Baltimore who made the inquiry particularly with this object in view in regard to retailing. Among other articles she sold—I say “she” because she is a woman-were a great many of No. 2 shore mackerel, which she sold, I think, for 25 cents-320 mackerel in a barrel is $40 a barrel. Now, it makes no difference to her in her retail busi

a ness whether she pays $6 a barrel or $12, for $10 a barrel will cover all the profit she wants. It is just about the same with every other kind of fish that is retailed.

EFFECT OF WHOLESALE PRICES UPON RETAIL. When I was in Washington last spring, with the committee from Boston before the committee of the House, there was a gentleman present-I think he was a Western Senator-taiking about cheap fish. Said he: “I can not understand this cry about cheap fish. Here we have had free fish for years, and yet I find when I go to market in the West to buy fish for my family the cheapest thing is a herring for my servant girls, and that is 124 cents a pound; and I want to know where the cheapness comes in." That illustrates what I said before—that the wholesale price of fish has very little to do with the retail price. The retail fish business is peculiar; in fact, it is all retail to the consumer, for the reason that it is largely used only on certain days. That practice has come to us from Europe. With all Catholics over here Friday is fish day, and there is always some kind of fish on the table; and everyone who has gone to sea knows that it is the same on shipboard. For that reason, as a general thing, fish do not enter into daily consumption as many other kinds of food do. So that it comes to this: That the retail dealers have only two or three days in the week when they sell many fish. This tends to make the retail price of fish excessive; more so, I think, than any other kind of goods. And it is invariably so. I know one retail fish dealer on a street close by the Tremont House whose price for halibut is 25 cents, year in and year out, no matter whether he pays 3 or 30.

Q. He takes his average?-A. He takes his average. I have looked into that thing with some care, and I do not believe that the duty affects the consumer except, as I say, once in a while on some particular article it may affect the price to the consumer slightly, but not to the amount of the duty.

SALT FISH.

Q. Do you buy these salt fish that you deal in directly from the vessels that bring them in or do you buy from dealers in the provinces?—A. The imported fish come here principally to commission merchants; in fact, you might say all of them. The opposition to the duty on fish is made in Boston principally by commission men and dealers and their friends.

CORRECTION OF MR. WRIGHTINGTON'S TESTIMONY. Right here I would say that Mr. Wrightington made the remark that I am interested in vessels, supposing that what he said was true. But he did not know. I am not. During the time of free fish we had 15 or 18 vessels. Quite a number of them we owned. We sold them all, and to-day we have not a thousand dollars interest in any vessel.

RECIPROCITY. But my opposition to reciprocity is that it is ruinous to the fish business of New England. You gentlemen can be but little aware how delicate a question that is to the fishermen of the coast-not the larger fishermen. But I will say that there are thousands of families from Block Island to Eastport, living on the islands and inlets to the coast, that never see $200 in a year, and many of them never see $150. But, with a little garden spot and with the fish that they can catch and sell and consume, they will give their children a good school education, dress them decently and comfortably, and this reciprocity question is a serious one to them. Mr. Wrightington has said that they ought to be protected in some way. That is a very strong admission. I do not think any opposer of reciprocity could make any stronger argument against it than that. They must be protected in some other way, says Mr. Wrightington. This is a serious matter to these families living on a small competence, as I have described.

By Senator SAULSBURY:
Q. You say the country wants cheap fish?-A. Yes.
Q. That is, of course, the poorer classes of the country?-A. Yes.

Q. How would the abandonment of the spring fisheries affect those people in reference to the supply of fish? Would they buy the dearer fish if they could not get the cheaper?--A. Of course. The past season has been unprecedented in rezani to mackerel; there has been a great scarcity along our shores. Of course codfish are different. I think that in ordinary seasons we would get good fish and enough of them, especially if we had a chance of getting coltish from Nova Scotia, too, because the fish from there would help. I think the advantages vould be more than the disadvantages. Of course, in one way you would yet cheaper fish, perhaps, to have the southern tish, but I think in the long run it would be better for the country not to take those fish.

By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Is there as much nutrition per pound of these poor fish as per pound of good fish?-A. What makes a fish good is not size, but quality. A fish il inches long may be better than one 15 inches long, because the larger fish, when dressed, may all

dry up:

By Senator SAULSBURY: Q. Is the price of these spring fish as dear to the consumer as of the better fish which are put up later in the season?-A. The fish are generally very cheap. They often catch large quantities of them. There are thousands, I was going to say-yes, there must be thousands-of barrels that are thrown away because they can not get price enough for them really to pay for the trouble in getting them.

Q. Then I understand you to mean that the spring fish are sold at cheaper rates than the fish caught later in the season?-A. Yes, sir. Of course they might not be; it might be that there would be so few caught then that they would bring a higher price.

By Senator FRYE: Q. Do you think that any fish that is bearing spawn is good to eat?-A. It don't seem so to me. The herring that come to our shores are all poor; we do not get any fine ones except those that come from Nova Scotia and that section.

TESTIMONY OF THOMAS A. RICH.

Boston, Mass., September 30, 1886. THOMAS A. Rich sworn and examined.

By Senator Edmi'NDS:
Q. You reside in Boston?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. What is your occupation? - A. Fish business.
Q. What is your age?--A. Fifty-nine.
Q. How long have you been in the fish business here?- A. Since 1849.
Q. Do you deal in both salt and fresh fish?-A. No, sir; salt fish altogether.
Q. Do you deal in all varieties of salt fish?-A. About all.

Q. Where do the fish you deal in come from, chiefly? Where are they caught and cured?- A. They come from New England and Nova Scotia.

Q. About what proportion comes from Nova Scotian waters?-A. That I can not say.

By Senator FRYE: Q. What do you mean by “Nova Scotian waters"--within the 3-mile shore line? A. Oh, no; I mean the northern waters. The statistics show, I believe, that 4 per cent of mackerel were taken in Nova Scotian waters.

EFFECT OF THE ABROGATION OF THE TREATY OF 1870. By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Can you tell us what has been the effect of the abrogation of the treaty of 1870 on the price of salted fish in this market?--A. As a general thing I do not think it has had any effect at all.

Q. What becomes of the question of duty that has had to be paid since?- A. I think the duty is borne by the Nova Scotians entirely; I think there is no question about it.

AMERICAN FISHERY INTERESTS.

Q. What makes you think so?-A. For many reasons. The price is governed by supply and demand, largely by supply. There may be one or two kinds that are possibly affected by the duty, but I do not believe that any one kind is affected to the extent of the duty. Neither do I believe, as Mr. Wrightington has stated, that the consumer pays the duty. The consumer buys of the retailer, and the price of the retailer varies very little. There is one case that I have cited a number of times which illustrates as well as any. Last season there was a customer of ours ini Baltimore who made the inquiry particularly with this object in view in regard to retailing. Among other articles she sold, I say “she” because she is a woman-were a great many of No. 2 shore mackerel, which she sold, I think, for 25 cents-320 mackerel in a barrel is $40 a barrel. Now, it makes no difference to her in her retail business whether she pays $6 a barrel or $12, for $10 a barrel will cover all the profit she wants. It is just about the same with every other kind of fish that is retailed.

EFFECT OF WHOLESALE PRICES UPON RETAIL.

in.

When I was in Washington last spring, with the committee from Boston before the committee of the House, there was a gentleman present-I think he was a Western Senator -taiking about cheap fish. Said he: “I can not understand this cry about cheap fish. Here we have had free fish for years, and yet I find when I go to market in the West to buy fish for my family the cheapest thing is a herring for my servant girls, and that is 12 cents a pound; and I want to know where the cheapness comes

That illustrates what I said before—that the wholesale price of fish has very little to do with the retail price. The retail fish business is peculiar; in fact, it is all retail to the consumer, for the reason that it is largely used only on certain days. That practice has come to us from Europe. With all Catholics over here Friday is fish day, and there is always some kind of fish on the table; and everyone who has gone to sea knows that it is the same on shipboard. For that reason, as a general thing, tish do not enter into daily consumption as many other kinds of food do. So that it comes to this: That the retail dealers have only two or three days in the week when they sell many fish. This tends to make the retail price of fish excessive; more so, I think, than any other kind of goods. And it is invariably so. I know one retail fish dealer on a street close by the Tremont House whose price for halibut is 25 cents, year in and year out, no matter whether he pays 3 or 30. Q. He takes his average?-A. He takes his average.

I have looked into that thing with some care, and I do not believe that the duty affects the consumer except, as I say, once in a while on some particular article it may affect the price to the consumer slightly, but not to the amount of the duty.

SALT FISH.

Q. Do you buy these salt fish that you deal in directly from the vessels that bring them in or do you buy from dealers in the provinces?—A. The imported fish come here principally to commission merchants; in fact, you might say all of them. The opposition to the duty on fish is made in Boston principally by commission men and dealers and their friends.

.

CORRECTION OF MR. WRIGHTINGTON'S TESTIMONY. Right here I would say that Mr. Wrightington made the remark that I am interested in vessels, supposing that what he said was true. But he did not know. I am not. During the time of free fish we had 15 or 18 vessels. Quite a number of thein we owned. We sold them all, and to-day we have not a thousand dollars interest in any vessel.

RECIPROCITY. But my opposition to reciprocity is that it is ruinous to the fish business of New England. You gentlemen can be but little aware how delicate a question that is to the fishermen of the coast-not the larger fishermen. But I will say that there are thousands of families from Block Island to Eatport, living on the islands and inlets to the coast, that never see $200 in a year, and many of them never see $150. But, with a little garden spot and with the fish that they can catch and sell and consume, they will give their children a good school education, dress them decently and comfortably, and this reciprocity question is a serious one to them. Mr. Wrightington has said that they ought to be protected in some way. That is a very strong admission. I do not think any opposer of reciprocity could make any stronger argument against it than that. They inust be protected in some other way, says Mr. Wrightington. This is a serious matter to these families living on a small competence, as I have described.

Q. You call it a serious matter to them. The inference is that with either salt or fresh fish they are not able to get the same prices for the fish that they catch and sell to the wholesale dealers that they otherwise would?-A. That is it, generally.

Q. Of course they would not care if they got the same price for their fish?—A. It is not a market for their fish, but if that market is supplied, even at the same price, they can not afford to go out.

Q. If it is supplied at the same price, and all the fish they bring are purchased, then what would you say?-A. But that is not always the case. Last spring the fish were rushed into market and left over on Nova Scotia account, a great many

of them; I mean mackerel. And more mackerel were sent here before the duty was put on than Mr. Wrightington has sold, together with what are on hand now in this city. I have bought them as low as $2.50 a barrel.

Q. The salted imported fish you buy, do you purchase through commission houses here or by correspondence?--A. By correspondence almost entirely,

Q. And they are the agents of dealers in the provinces or agents of fishing vessels?-A. No; they are agents of merchants and vessel owners both, and in some instances of catchers largely of both mackerel and codfish.

THE INSHORE FISHERIES.

Q. I presume you have not much knowledge on the subject of the source of this supply that comes in to you, whether it is taken inshore, as I call it, or outside of the municipal lines of the British provinces?

The WITNESS. You mean fish caught by Americans?
Senator EDMUNDS. No; these imported fish.

A. No; I think the imported fish are largely caught on the Grand Banks and other banks outside where our vessels go. I know, as I know anything that is told me, that they come from the Grand Banks, from the Western Bank, St. Peters Bank, and other banks up in that region.

Q. What portion of the salted fish that you get from American vessels and dealers do you think comes from the inshore fisheries?

The WITNESS. The Nova Scotia shore?
Senator EDMUNDS. Yes; and all along the British provinces.
A. I should say not any.

Q. Substantially not any at all?—A. Yes. I don't know how close inshore the fish are caught in Labrador.

Senator EDMUNDS. It is not very close, for the coast is dangerous.

The WITNESS. Fish are caught on the fishing banks; there are their haunts. There are a few fish caught near inshore all along the coast from Hatteras as far north as you please to go.

Q. That is a small proportion of the catch, you think?–A. Yes.

BAIT.

Q. Have you any information on the subject of the supply of bait and of the desirability of getting it within the British provinces?-A. Only general knowledge, but my opinion is that we had better be without that privilege than to have anything like reciprocity.

Q. How could they get their bait?—A. They could take it with them or catch it on the banks.

Q. Do you think bait enough could be caught on those shores, together with what they could take from here?-A. Yes. Why not? There are different kinds of bait. Vessels formerly took salt mackerel, and they took clams. Of late years, however, they think fresh bait is better, and I suppose it is.

Q. The mackerel are taken almost entirely in purse seines, are they not?-A. Yes. But even if the subject of bait arises, and all is admitted that they assume, it always seems to me that the seller is the party chiefly concerned, more than the buyer, generally in trade. If the bait is bought from the poor people on the coast I do not see but that they receive as much benefit from it as we do. I can not see that the bait question, even if it is all that they claim, is any better for us than for them.

SALT FISH.

Q. How many tons of all kinds of salted fish do you deal in in a year?–A. I could not tell that.

Q. State the gross amount in round numbers.-A. I do not know what it would amount to; it would be a mere guess.

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »